After living a very beautiful but simple life in Boca Raton, Florida for more than 24 years, my life changed drastically moving back to my roots on Vancouver Island – however in a good way, a purposeful way. One could say I’ve found my calling by being a caregiver. When one of my sisters asked, “Why on earth would you want that job Nancy?” I replied, “It’s not a job, it’s a purpose”. After not working for 27 years, playing tennis, and eating lunch with my teammates at the most elegant country clubs in South Florida, I found myself seeking something meaningful, something that would bring me joy.
What does a caregiver do really? We do much more than hold hands and dust pianos. Besides driving to doctors appointments, purchasing groceries and making delicious meals (home made soups are my speciality!) we are there to bring joy, whether that may be to listen to fascinating life stories (all of them are) help to dress or bathe, wrap them in a warmed towel or dress a wound. In essence, we do all the things you did all your life with your own babies, but now find challenging after being independent for so long. Those crippled tired hands have earned help.
Grown children live busy lives and they carry guilt because they can’t always be there to help with day to day tasks. This is where a caregiver comes in. Not just any caregiver, but one who is compassionate, loving, patient and kind. One that is consistent and can add value to a senior’s life because they are building relationships. One that you look forward to seeing like a family member or close friend. Because loneliness is a real thing for many, especially the elderly and particularly now in these uncertain COVID times.
I was once told by a counselor that humans are hard wired to be connected. A very true statement. I’ve met some incredible elderly people here in Victoria that have shared their life stories – powerful and entertaining stories that deserve to be heard. A funny note, my first clients (I will call them Henry and Margaret) are a sweet couple: Henry, a decorated and accomplished professor, wearing a cap bearing the insignia of his university; and his accomplished wife, a renown woman herself. When I picked them up to take them out for a few hours (I think we ended up ambling around the woods of their family home they shared for 47 years followed by a walk and ice cream along Dallas Road) the first thing Henry said was, “Nice to meet you Nancy. But does she (head cocked toward Margaret) have to come?”
I worked with a couple, for whom the husband was my prime companion role. After a few months he went on to care. His wife had received a diagnosis of cancer, and after many years of two people in the home, she was lonely and scared. I worked on a ‘team of two’ as her companion. The home was spotless, and that is how I coined the term “holding hands and dusting pianos.”
I have so many funny stories and relationships that have given me this sense of purpose I was seeking. I will share some with you in the next few months. Stay stunned, stay safe, and always be kind.
Care & Company offers introduction to caregiver courses. You may register for the upcoming course in November. Please call us at 250-382-2328 for more information.
Submitted by Nancy
Community Liaison for Care & Company
Senior Care Victoria